marlene mountain
review of mm

Jane Reichhold

mother nature’s heat / a desert snake by
Marlene Mountain and Jean Jorgensen.

Saddle-stapled, 8.5 x5.5, 44 pages. Order from
Four Seasons Corner, 9633-68 A Street,
Edmonton, Alberta, T6B 1V3, Canada for $10
plus s&h – $1.50 USA & Canada; $3.50 elsewhere
or from Marlene Mountain, 711 Simerly Creek
Road, Hampton, TN 37658 for $8.00 plus s&h –
$1.50 USA & Canada; $3.50 elsewhere.

The best and most succinct explanation of this book
comes from the beginning of the Introduction written
by Carlos Colón: "This collection of linked one-line
haiku by Jean Jorgensen and Marlene Mountain begins
in July, 1993 and continues through August, 2001. . .
these 16 poems are more of a haiku diary than the
formalized renga some writers compose which moves,
sometimes ploddingly, through the seasons in a
structured, often straitjacketed way. Jean and Marlene
alternate short and long links and double their links at
stanzas 6 /7, 18 / 19 and 30 / 31; otherwise, they
free themselves to write about anything they wish."

This pair had started writing together in 1993, but it
was not until they both had email in January, 2001,
that their collaboration speeded up to the velocity of
their two minds. Marlene Mountain, with her demands
that all the renga she participates in be done in her
style and format – one-liners in all lower case letters
on current events and personal commentary, and her
righteous anger that out-leaps almost any linkage,
puts quite a burden on her partners to retain their
individuality and personal outlook. Jean Jorgensen,
with her wry humor and her excellent ability to link
responses holds the poems together with her work.
With their backtalk and commentary to the images on
the TV screens, these renga present licitly-split
machine gun mouths in today’s world. The renga world
is richer for the work of Jean Jorgensen with Marlene

For a sample of the work in the book, mother
nature’s heat / a desert snake
– the title of their first
renga, here are the last six links from "just the odd
flake" done during April 8 – 28. 2001. Jean’s lines are
in roman font and Marlene’s in italic.

case of the ‘black widow millionaire’ to the jury i hope she goes free
just enough money to pay for the parcel
gifts for her hillside we dig irises and primroses and daylilies
despite all his efforts . . . grass brown and dry
just to be around the sudden wiggle of a tadpole & know my place
all day in a haiku workshop my numb bum


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